Maybe your doctor or your spouse is telling you it's time to get a hearing aid. Your doctor can confirm that your hearing loss is not caused by a problem that can be easily corrected, like earwax or an infection, and that you do indeed need a hearing aid. You'll want to get your hearing tested by an audiologist. This hearing specialist can steer you in finding the hearing aid that best meets your needs.

As you shop for a hearing aid, hear are some of the choices you'll encounter as far as the style of hearing aids available:

Canal Hearing Aids – are worn in the ear canal, and there are two types. The Completely in canal (CIC) hearing aid tucks neatly into the ear canal and is mostly hidden from view. The CIC aid does not pick up wind noise in the way that some other aids do. Because of its small size, its batteries are very small with a shorter life. Also, it lacks some of the extra features like the volume control and directional microphone.  The In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aid is molded to fit the shape of your ear canal. You wear it fitting partly in your ear canal. The ITC aid can have some extra features that are not available in the smaller CIC aid.

In-the-Ear (ITE) Hearing Aids – fit inside the outer ear. There are two types of ITE aids, one that fills your outer ear and one that fills the lower half of your outer ear. This type aid is made of hard plastic and can be equipped with extra features like volume control, directional microphones, and the telecoil, that make it easier for you to hear when you're on the phone. The ITE aids are usually easier for you to insert in the ear. They use bigger batteries, which generally last longer. The ITE does pick up wind noise more than the CIC aid, and it is more visible that the Canal aids.

Behind-the-ear (BTE) Hearing Aids – consist of a hard plastic case that you wear behind your ear, connected to a plastic earmold that fits in your outer ear. This is likely the largest hearing aid you'll see, although some of the newer model BTE aids are being made smaller in size. The BTE aid may pick up more wind noise that other hearing aids, but it also amplifies better than other hearing aids. There is a newer type BTE aid called an open-fit hearing aid. These aids fit behind the ear with just a narrow tube inserted in the ear canal. This type aid can be useful if you have problems with earwax buildup.

Each of the various styles of aids have their pluses and minuses. Your audiologist can help direct you to the styles best suited to help your hearing loss.